Tinotenda Dzengerere

Surgery gave me a chance to live like a normal teenager

Scoliosis is the curvature of the spine. There are different types of scoliosis. Mine was idiopathic scoliosis, Science still does not know the cause, hence the word ‘idiopathic’.

I found out that I had scoliosis when I was in grade 6 (2015). Before I got to know that I had scoliosis I walked bent and I was always told to walk straight but I didn’t realise that I was walking bent. We didn’t think that me walking bent was caused by a major condition.

When I found out about it, I had gone to a GP in April 2015, he explained and said that the specialist would know best if I needed surgery to fix or manipulation. That day I cried and the question I kept asking myself was where did it come from? I was referred to a spine specialist. After the initial diagnosis my family, primary school teachers and friends were all very supportive.

I saw Mr Mandizvidza after a few months and he explained what scoliosis was and that mine was “severe scoliosis”. I was hoping that I didn’t need surgery, but sadly it was going to happen. I really wanted to cry because thinking about it just made wonder if I was going to survive the surgery but I tried my very best to keep it together. I went for x-rays, MRI and CT scans. Initially corrective surgery was set for December 2016 but it didn’t happen, I guess it wasn’t the right time.

2017 in high school, with scoliosis it didn’t bother me as I had no hope of getting surgery and told myself I would live with it. That changed in February, when a girl at school, poked me and told me to fix my back. That really hurt my feelings and I cried all day and all I wanted was to get the surgery done, it killed my self-esteem and confidence.

I ended up having the corrective surgery on the 4th of March in 2017 and I was very scared and emotional. A lot of things were going through my head, but I didn’t say. My mom kept asking me if I was scared but I just said no. We did the Lord’s prayer and I went into theatre. I’m told surgery was 8 hours long and I woke up in ICU the next day and I was happy because I was alive.

Pain after surgery was excruciating but the medicine helped a bit. The worst was walking and going to the loo, I dreaded that. I was in hospital for a week. My recovery took 6 weeks. Physio helped strengthen my muscles.

Getting surgery helped bring my confidence back and a chance to live like a normal teenager i.e. I can play casual non-impact sports above all my posture was corrected; I only have the scar to remind me of my journey.

There is need for society to be sensitive to different conditions that affect people. Thankfully, technological advancements make it possible for surgeries like scoliosis to happen in Zimbabwe.

The experience though difficult was made easier by supportive parents and a caring doctor.